5357 H Street – Sacramento, Calif.
Every year when summer finally shines fully upon Sacramento, residents are shocked at the heat waves splashing over our city. But frankly, summer is synonymous with heat. Perhaps that’s why so many choose to live here. With heat, the barbecue gets used, the sprinkler gets run through, many visits occur to the park and the movie theater, we make sure our friends with boats take us out on the river. It’s a beautiful thing and we love summer.
With all of the wonderful aspect of life that summer features, creamy cold desserts deserve a special mention. Although ice cream, frozen yogurt, gelato, sorbet and blended drinks are common after-suppertries on summer evenings, crÃ¨me brÃ»lÃ©e is a perfectly creamy and cool treat that only a foodie fool could forget.
Like with any interesting person, cracking through the exterior shell (in this case, the hardened, caramelized sugar seal of the trop chic dessert) to get to the treasure beyond is part of the fun. With the coveted Sacramento French Film Festival currently screening, what better time to revisit such a simply sophisticated French dessert?
CrÃ¨me brÃ»lÃ©e has been found on nearly every restaurant menu at one point or another in the last few years and is as commonly known as other French dairy like Brie or chevre cheeses. It’s exotic, foreign and always met with eating intrigue and enthusiasm, yet very pure and simple.
Cream, egg yolks, vanilla bean (as opposed to extract), sugar and flame are plain ingredients that are met with great care, technique, timing and temperature to properly prepare crÃ¨me custard to be burnt for your pleasure.
With vanilla being the only true flavoring, crÃ¨me brÃ»lÃ©e’s “wow” factor isn’t the taste–it’s the texture. The juxtaposition between rigid, glass-like, burnt sugar and the purest, weightless, cloud-like velvety vanilla cream creates the fabulous flavor.
On a recent lovely drive east down H Street from Midtown, I headed toward CafÃ© Rolle for an authentic and reasonably priced cool crÃ¨me brÃ»lÃ©e on a hot summer evening.
With the establishment closing at 7:30 p.m., I managed to grab a corner table before the quaint cafÃ© closed.
Always on-site and taking the utmost pride in his work (tres francais), server/manager Rafik Rabehi described the desserts du jour when I requested a menu. The crÃ¨me brÃ»lÃ©e of the day was baked with blackberries and chilled before being sugared and torched.
Sold! And it was everything I had hoped it would be. For only $5 (4.03 euros at current exchange), my crÃ¨me brÃ»lÃ©e was freshly flambÃ©ed and served in an individual ramekin the diameter of a softball, with fresh blackberries and the best flavor and texture.
Oh hot summer heat and cool treats! Je vous adore!
After my cool crÃ¨me brÃ»lÃ©e encounter, I walked away, grinning like a fool, as if I just met my next ex-boyfriend. The experience was spiritual, inexpensive and inspiring.
The only thing better would be a French film and then a crÃ¨me brÃ»lÃ©e of the day.